By Kate Ferrell | Guest Writer
As the first show of its 2019-2020 season, Xavier Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time did not disappoint in the slightest. In the play, 15-year-old Christopher Boone, a mathematical genius on the autism spectrum, investigates the murder of his neighbor’s dog, Wellington. It takes place in Swinton, England.
The first thing I noticed as I walked into the space was the eye-catching set, created under the direction of tech director Joe Leonard. Although slightly disorienting at first, the on-stage set up created an entirely new space on the same stage that has been used hundreds of times before in Xavier productions.
The breathtaking set was comprised of a large 5×5 light-up grid floor placed in front of two tall blue walls that towered above the cast and audience. Additionally, these walls were littered with dozens of small LED lights that seamlessly created the night sky before the audience’s very eyes.
Not only did this set design have a large ‘wow’ factor to it, it also was imperative to the show itself. The lights on the grid floor served a variety of purposes, such as showing the emotions Christopher was feeling or creating a visual to help the audience see the world as the character did.
The stellar performance of sophomore Dylan O’Leary as Christopher was one you could easily find on a Broadway stage. His dedication to the character and clear research on the struggles of being on the autism spectrum were evident in every line and movement he made. His portrayal of such an intricate and difficult character was commendable.
O’Leary was not the only smart casting decision made in this production by director Stephen Skiles. Also noteworthy was Holland Taylor’s portrayal of Siobhan, Christopher’s school mentor and confidant. Her stage presence was unbelievably calming, and as her voice echoed throughout the space. She dominated the stage in every scene.
While the acting used in the play was comparable to a professional production, the various accents used throughout the show were mediocre at best. While some of the cast members’ accents were executed perfectly, they were inevitably overshadowed by the distracting accents of those who paled in comparison.
Obviously, the real star of the show was Ali, the golden retriever puppy used in act two of the show. Even though her time on stage was extremely brief, Ali stole the show, causing the entire audience to verbally exclaim a unanimous “awwww” upon her entrance.
Expertly cast, performed and directed, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was one of the most intricate but effective shows that I have ever seen Xavier Theatre present.
If this is a representation of what the other shows this season will look like, then you will definitely find me in the front row of every performance. I can’t wait to enjoy more theater productions of this caliber.
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